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EBS Ecology surveyed a section of the Eastern Adelaide Hills for the nationally and state threatened Leipoa ocellata or Malleefowl.
These endearing birds spend a great deal of time building and maintaining large nests of sand and debris. The male ensures that the mound remains at the optimum incubation temperature of 33C by using his beak to gauge temperature levels. To alter the temperature, substrate including sand and leaves, can be added or subtracted until the desired temperature is attained. Many Malleefowl mounds were found on the survey, but only a small percentage of them were active.
This is to be expected as the population of Malleefowl around the state is relatively low and each pair can utilise a number of mounds within their home range during their lifetime. This results in areas with many mounds however most are not being actively used every year.
Female Malleefowl can lay a high number of eggs each year, with the average mound containing between 15 and 20 eggs. The breeding season can also be quite long and be up to 11 months in duration. Young Malleefowl hatch after long incubation periods of between 49 to 96 days (average is between 62 and 64 days) and need to dig themselves out of the sand mound without assistance from the parents. The young are also totally independent of their parents and are able to fly, feed and perch in trees within 24 hours of their emergence.
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